Monday, January 04, 2021

1059. Abbott's Lagoon - Robert Hass


The first thing that is apt to raise your eyes

Above the dove-grey and silvery thickets

Of lupine and coyote bush and artichoke thistle

On the sandy, winding path from the parking lot

To the beach at Abbott’s Lagoon is the white flash

Of the marsh hawk’s rump as it skims low

Over the coastal scrub. White-crowned sparrows,

Loud in the lupine even in October, even

In the drizzly rain, startle and disappear.

The brush rabbits freeze, then bolt and disappear,

And the burbling songs and clucks of the quail

That you may not even have noticed you were noticing

Go mute and you are there in October and the rain,

And the hawk soars past, first hawk, then shadow

Of a hawk, not much shadow in the rain, low sun

Silvering through clouds a little to the west.

It’s almost sundown. And this is the new weather

At the beginning of the middle of the California fall

When a rain puts an end to the long sweet days

Of our September when the skies are clear, days mild,

and the roots of the plants have gripped down

Into the five-or six-month drought, have licked

All the moisture they are going to lick

From the summer fogs, and it is very good to be walking

Because you can almost hear the earth sigh

As it sucks up the rain, here where mid-October

Is the beginning of winter which is the beginning

Of a spring greening, as if the sound you are hearing

Is spring and winter lying down in one another’s arms

Under the hawk’s shadow among the coastal scrub,

Ocean in the distance and the faintest sound of surf

and a few egrets, bright whits, working the reeds

At the water’s edge in October in the rain.

Monday, December 21, 2020

1058. Am I Not Lucky - James Laughlin


that you decided to love me

what if you decided to love

a cat or a dog or dresses

or even Paul Newman    Ive

never quite understood how

it happened     I was having my

life you yours and each

seemed content    we knew each

other slightly but only as

friends    then suddenly with-

out warning or expectation

you decided to love me (and

I you) & my life was changed

Friday, December 04, 2020

1057. Culture and the Universe - Simon J. Ortiz

 Culture and the Universe


Two nights ago

in the canyon darkness,

only the half-moon and stars,

only mere men.

Prayer, faith, love,


                       We are measured

by vastness beyond ourselves.

Dark is light.

Stone is rising.

I don’t know

if humankind understands

culture: the act

of being human

is not easy knowledge.

With painted wooden sticks

and feathers, we journey

into the canyon toward stone,

a massive presence

in midwinter.

We stop.

                       Lean into me.

                       The universe

sings in quiet meditation.

We are wordless:

                       I am in you.

Without knowing why

culture needs our knowledge,

we are one self in the canyon.

                                                                    And the stone wall

I lean upon spins me

wordless and silent

to the reach of stars

and to the heavens within.

It’s not humankind after all

nor is it culture

that limits us.

It is the vastness

we do not enter.

It is the stars

we do not let own us.

Monday, November 16, 2020

1056. From Here To There - David Wagoner


Though you can see in the distance, outlined precisely

With speechless clarity, the place you must go,

The problem remains

Judging how far away you are and getting there safely.

Distant objects often seem close at hand

When looked at grimly.

But between you and those broken hills (so sharply in focus

You have to believe in them with all your senses)

Lies a host of mirages:

Water put out like fire, the shimmer of flying islands,

The unbalancing act of mountains upside down

Passing through too much air,

Light shifts, fidgets, and veers in ways clearly beyond you,

Confusing its weights and measures with your own

Which are far simpler:

A man on foot can suffer only one guiding principle

Next to his shadow: One Damm Thing After Another,

Meaning his substance

In the shape of his footsoles against the unyielding ground.

When you take a step, whatever you ask to bear you

Is bearing your life:

Sound earth may rest on hollow earth, and stones too solid

To budge in one direction may be ready

To gather no moss

With you, end over end, in another. You’ve been foolhardy

Enough already to make this slewfooted journey

Through a place without pathways

Where looking back seems a disheartening as relearning

The whole mad lay of the land by heart

After an earthquake.

At last, watching your step, having shrugged off most illusions,

And stumbling close enough to rap your knuckles

Against the reality

Of those unlikely rocks you’ve stared at through thick and thin

Air and the dumb-shows of light, your hope should be,

As a hardened traveller,

Not to see your trembling hands passing through cloud-stuff, 

Some flimsy mock-up of a world spun out of vapor.

Wednesday, November 04, 2020

1055. On Taking the Measure of Your Book - Fran Claggett-Holland

For Michael Franco

there must be a way

to enter your poetry

the way your words turn

into meaning after meaning

into the depths of memory

into the silence of the beach

which of course is never silent

but it seems so when I an there alone

and then the birds come

over the dunes

the tiny sandpipers,

silent in sand

creating the rhythm

of your poem

and far out beyond my eyes

the great white pelicans

and as I watch them I see

how I must enter your poetry

wings folded against the wind

as I slice again and again

into the measure of your ocean

there where silence is translated

into language

Sunday, October 04, 2020

1054. Franz Marc's Blue Horses - Mary Oliver

 Franz Marc’s Blue Horses - Mary Oliver

I step into the painting or the four blue horses. 

I am not even surprised that I can do this.

One of the horses walks toward me.

His blue nose noses me lightly. I put my arm

over his blue mane, not holding on, just 


He allows me my pleasure.

Franz Marc died a young man, shrapnel in his brain.

I would rather die than try to explain to the blue horses 

what war is.

They would either faint in horror, or simply

find it impossible to believe.

I do not know how to thank you, Franz Marc.

Maybe our world will grow kinder eventually.

Maybe the desire to make something beautiful

is the piece of God that is inside each of us.

Now all four horses have come closer,

are bending their faces toward me

as if they have secrets to tell.

I don’t expect them to speak, and they don’t.

If being so beautiful isn’t enough, what

could they possibly say?

Franz Marc.png

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

1053. The Panther - Rainer Maria Rilke

Translated by Robert Bly

Jardin des Plantes, Paris

From seeing and seeing the seeing has become so exhausted

it no longer sees anything anymore.

The world is made of bars, a hundred thousand

bars, and behind the bars, nothing.

The lithe swinging of that rhythmical easy stride

that slowly circles down to a single point

is like a dance of energy around a hub,

in which a great will stands stunned and numbed.

At times the curtains of the eye lift

without a sound—then a shape enters,

slips through the tightened silence fo the shoulders,

reaches the heart and dies.

Friday, September 18, 2020

1052. For Those Who Would Govern - Joy Harjo

 For Those Who Would Govern - Joy Harjo (A member of the Mvskoke/Creek Nation

( I know this is not a poem but......)

First question: Can you first govern yourself?

Second question: What is the state of your own household?

Third question: Do you have a proven record of community service

and compassionate acts?

Fourth question: Do you know the history and laws of your principalities?

Fifth question: Do you follow sound principles? Look for fresh vision to lift all the inhabitants of the land, including animals, plants, 

elements, all who share this earth?

Sixth question: Are you owned by lawyers, bankers, insurance agents,

lobbyists, or other politicians, anyone else who would unfairly

profit by your decisions?

Seventh question: Do you have authority by the original keepers of

the lands, those who obey natural law and are in the service of 

the lands on which you stand.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

1051. Singing Everything - Joy Harjo (A member of the Mvskoke/Creek Nation)

 Singing Everything - Joy Harjo (A member of the Mvskoke/Creek Nation)

Once there were songs for everything,

Songs for planting, for growing, for harvesting,

For eating, getting drunk, falling asleep,

For sunrise, birth, mind-break, and war.

For death (those are the heaviest songs and they

Have to be pried from the earth with shovels of grief)

Now all we hear are falling-in-love songs and

Falling apart after falling in love songs.

The earth is leaning sideways

And a song is emerging from the floods

And fires. Urgent tendrils lift toward the sun.

You must be friends with silence to hear.

The songs of the guardians of silence are the most powerful—

They are the most rare.

Friday, August 14, 2020

1050. For The Conjunction Of Two Planets - Adrienne Rich


We smile at astrological hopes

And leave the sky to expert men

Who do not reckon horoscopes

But painfully extend their ken

In mathematical debate

With slide and photographic plate.

And yet, protest it if we will,

Some corner of the mind retains

The medieval man, who still

Keeps watch upon those starry skeins

And drives us out of doors at night

To gaze at anagrams of light.

Whatever register or law

Is drawn in digits for these two,

Venus and Jupiter keep their awe,

Wardens of brilliance, as they do

Their dual circuit of the west—

The brightest planet and her guest.

Is any light so proudly thrust

From darkness on our lifted faces.

A sign of something we can trust,

Or is it that in starry places

We see the things we long to see

In fiery iconography?

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

1049. Books And Thoughts - Walter Rinder


books and thoughts clean the mind

of restrictions built by time

through the pages we discover

all the feelings held from each other

we read the words, think the thoughts

the author expresses to be taught

books to me are like a friend

whose knowledge helps my hurts to mend

Saturday, August 01, 2020

1048. Arrivals - David Whyte

Imagine the confines of a long grey corridor
just before immigration at Washington Dulles
airport. Imagine two Ethiopian women amid
a sea of familiar international plastic blandness
entering America for the first time. Think of
their undulating multi-colored turbans raised
atop graceful heads, transforming us, 
a grey line of travelers behind them, into followers
and mendicants, mere drab, impatient, moneyed
and perplexed attendants to their bright,
excited, chattering arrival..

Imagine a sharp plexi-glass turn left and suddenly
before them, in biblical astonishment, like a vertical
Red Sea churning, like the waters barring Moses from
The Promised Land, like Jacob standing before his ladder,
a moving escalator, a mode of rising, a form of ascension,
a way to go up they’d never seen before, its steel gray
movement, an interlocking on and up invitation
that brought them and everyone behind them,
to a bemused, complete, and utter standstill.

So that you saw it for the first time as they saw it
and for what it was, a grated river of lifting steel,
in involuntary, moving ascension into who knows what.
An incredible surprise. And you knew even through
your tiredness, why it made them raise their hands
to their mouths, why it made them low breathy
screams of surprise and delighted terror. You saw it
as they saw it, a staircase of invisible interlocking
beckoning hands asking them to rise up
independent of their history, their legs or their wills.
And we stopped as we knew we had to now
and watched the first delighted be-turbaned
woman put a sandaled foot on the flat grey
plain at the foot of the moving stair and
straightway withdraw it with a strangled scream,
leaving her sandal to ascend strangely without her
into heaven, into America, into her new life.

Then, holding her friend away, who tried to grab
her, to save her, to hold her back, who pointed
and shouted, telling her not to risk herself,
not to be foolish, she silently watched her shoe,
that willful child, running ahead, its sole intent
to enter the country oblivious to visas and immigration,
above the need for a job, uncaring of healthcare,
pointing toward some horizon she had never dreamt,
intent on leaving only its winged footprint
for her to follow, like a comet’s tail, like an omen
of necessity, like a signaled courage, like an uncaring
invitation, to make her entrance with soul and style.

Because she looked up at this orphaned, onward
messenger with her eyes a-blaze, threw off the panicked
clamoring arms of her friend, raised her chin
to noble profile, and with all that other hurrying
clamor of the world behind her, with a busy,
unknowing, corporate crowd at her back and questions
beginning to be asked out loud, she lifted her arms,
to queenly unbidden grace, strode on the the ascending
heaven bound steel like a newly struck film star,
singing the old, high pitched song her children
would hear when she told the story again.

And as her friend below sang,
applauded , danced on the spot
and undulated her companion’s arrival,
we stood there behind her,
transfixed, travel weary,
and crammed into the corridor
like extras from some
miraculous scene in the Bible.

she ascended,
her arms straight out,
wide eyed and singing.
Into America.